Hogan Lovells, DLA lead on Nicole Farhi sale out of administration

Hogan Lovells and DLA Piper have played roles on the £5.5m sale of fashion brand Nicole Farhi, after the business fell into administration.

The upmarket fashion retailer entered administration at the start of July, with Zolfo Cooper appointed as administrator. Hogan Lovells advised Zolfo Cooper on the disposal, with a team led by London business restructuring and insolvency partner Joe Bannister and real estate partners Dan Norris and Mathew Ditchburn.

Meanwhile, DLA Piper instructed the buyer, Maxine Hargreaves-Adams – the owner of Fenn Wright Manson and daughter of Matalan founder John Hargreaves. She has acquired the full Nicole Farhi brand, including six stores, 10 concessions and a wholesale business for £5.5m.

The DLA Piper team was led by restructuring partners, Rob Russell and Martin Keates.

Bannister said: “A key feature of this deal is the nature of the Farhi brand. It indicates that if you have the right brand and people who know the market it is possible to rescue businesses,” adding that “the process from administration to completion was very straightforward”.

However, he said the Fahri administration was also “a further illustration of the difficulties in the retail market at the moment, especially for specialist traders”.

Prior to the appointment of administrators, Hogan Lovells also advised private equity firm Kelso Place Asset Management, Nicole Farhi’s majority shareholder before the sale.

Kelso Place has a longstanding relationship Hogan Lovells, with the firm previously acting on its acquisition of Nicole Farhi from private equity firm OpenGate Capital in January 2012. OpenGate had owned the fashion label for less than two years, after buying it for £5m in March 2010.

Nicole Farhi was set up in 1982 as part of the French Connection group and is headquartered in London.